November 2, 2018
In December of 2017, I had the honor to meet a gentleman who was wearing his World War II Veteran ball cap--with a Third Army patch conspicuously appearing on the side of the hat. Now, I am a big fan of World War II films--both documentary and docudrama--and the movie "Patton" ranks up there in the list of favorite docudramas; therefore, I was excited to meet this gentleman.
Robert R. Lopez served in World War II with Patton's Third Army, on it's drive through
France and into Germany. As you can see, he has a Combat Infantry Badge, having been in combat on the way to Germany. He was a part of the historic march to save BG Anthony McAuliffe and the 101st Airborne under siege by superior German forces in Bastogne--superior in numbers, but not in quality, as the 101st killed Germans at a rate of 18:1!
This was the time of the famous march Bastogne by Patton's Third Army. Patton had already made contingency plans in case something went wrong as the D-Day forces moved inland which, of course, it did. That foresight enabled Third Army forces to move around 100 miles in three days, in winter storms, to engage with the Germans surrounding Bastogne. The 4th Armored Division and 26th infantry led the way, breaking through the Germans lines--destroying the entire 47 Panzer Corps as they opened a corridor to the besieged city.
Bob's discussion verified some of the things that were featured in the film. He had great respect for General Patton and, at one point, he actually walked alongside Patton, who frequently exited his jeep and walked & talked with his men. As much as his self-glorifying arrogance was sometimes off-putting to peers and seniors, he was equally dedicated to his men--and to him, they were HIS men...HE was responsible for their success or failure and wore that mantle in command.
You may remember a scene from the movie where American armored forces were crossing each others' paths and a fight ensued--a fist-fight, not armed battle. Yes, General Patton really DID stop the fight and the climb up onto material that had fallen off a truck and directed traffic until he turned it over to MPs to continue. When he was in command, there was absolutely no doubt that he was in command...and, much like the E.F. Hutton commercials of the 1980's, when he talked, people listened!
DID YOU KNOW...
...that during the march into Germany and, afterward, in the US Occupation Forces in
Germany, General Patton had a woman on his staff? Yep, it's true! Olivia DeSabough Clark joined up to become a WAC, went through training, and then was shipped off to Europe. Here is an excerpt from her story as tole in 2016:
She joined the military in 1944 and went into training in Marianna, Fla., where she worked in the control tower. “My job was to make sure the planes were ready for the next day’s flight. You see, this base is where they practiced skip bombing, dog bombing and such.”
The next year, she and other female troops from all branches of the service left on a ship headed for Europe. She landed in LeHarve, France, but ultimately ended up in Bad Tölz, Germany, Patton’s headquarters, serving in the 381st Squadron of the Third Army.
“But I never got to fly,” she says, still disappointed. “General Patton didn’t like women flying. I thought when I went over I would get a chance, but I soon found out otherwise.”
One of the most memorable events from her time in Bad Tölz involved disobeying orders. They weren’t supposed to leave headquarters, but she decided to go with her friend, Nina, to her boyfriend’s flat. Much to her shock, when they arrived, they found it “full of SS men hiding out.”
“We ran all the way back to the headquarters. We decided it was worth the penalty to let them know. We told them we knew what we had done was wrong, but we told them what we saw. They went and arrested those men.”
In the end, their disobedience was forgiven.
She met her future husband, Sgt. Donald Eugene Clark from Draper, her first day at Bad Tölz. During that first conversation, he shoved her and she punched him in the arm, which she had a habit of doing.
As history recounts, the Allies eventually won the War in Europe, with Germany signing the surrender document on May 8, 1945. But the victory would be short-lived for Patton, as he was killed in Germany on December 21, 1947, of complications from an automobile accident...which, to this day, is shrouded in a controversy of whether he was killed as part of a conspiracy...
Watch for tomorrow's article: An interview with Robert L. Jones on the War in Korea and Army Desegregation.
 Wood, B.J. (September 26, 2016). Intent on serving her country, Clark's Army assignment was with Patton. The Southwest Times. September 26, 2016. Available at https://www.southwesttimes.com/2016/09/intent-on-serving-her-country-clarks-army-assignment-was-with-patton/